In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt planned a tour of the mid-West and Western states. It was dubbed the “Great Loop Tour,” being careful not to call it a campaign tour, although he intended to seek re-election the following year. Theodore was adamant that his speeches be devoid of any partisan rhetoric, nor would he meet solely with Republican office holders in the various cities and towns he planned to visit. He would happily shake hands with a Democratic mayor or Senator just as he would a Republican. Theodore’s speeches, which he wrote himself, covered subjects of good citizenship, a square deal for every man, a strong navy, and the positive aspects of the recent irrigation bill he signed into law. Then there were his speeches relating to conservation of the land, forests, rivers, and wildlife. Nowhere did these subjects become more important to him than when he visited Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. While he was still three years away from having the law that would knight him as the “Conservation President,” Theodore was already making his mark on preserving the country’s resources.
Michael F. Blake is the author of three books on silent film actor Lon Chaney (which served as the basis for a 2000 documentary for Turner Classic Movies cable channel), and two books on the Western film genre, as well as The Cowboy President (TwoDot). He has also written several magazine and newspaper articles, as well as made numerous appearances on documentaries. He worked in the Film and TV industry for nearly forty years as an Emmy-winning makeup artist.